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Radha Says

The final collection by award-winning poet Reetika Vazirani, published by Drunken Boat.

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Annotations of contemporary poetry edited by Lisa Russ Spaar, published by Drunken Boat.


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Conceit Wars by Stanford Bravo

I open the envelope containing Bravo’s latest book. I get a feel for the weight of the book in my hands, the shape of it, the look of the cover, and more or less the number of pages as calculated by my five seconds flipping through it. I look for an intro or explanation in the book. I find something. I gloss over the outlines of the proposed project then flip through the book again; this reading takes about one minute. I put the book on the shelf along with other books by Bravo.

I go back to my old desk to type this.

I just noticed this table is more than a little crooked.

Now I am about to put not one but two of Bravo’s books under the front right table leg.


Freight Rate by Virilia Tang

I’ve always enjoyed receiving Tang’s mass public intended poetic confessions of her edgy sex life – by this press in particular. Rumor has it that the latest rumors created by Tang as regards rumors created by others have created quite the rumor storm.

I hope she weathers through it all in good cheer.

It’s a clear day here today in Brooklyn, what pilots call “severe clear.”

Simultaneous to reading Freight Rate, I am looking forward to cracking open the new proposed silica regulation that’s collecting dust at the Office of Management Budget (OMB), the agency that approves or disapproves all proposed regulations as well as designating which regulatory agencies are to be charged with oversight of each Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


Refresh, Refresh by Soledad Rojas  

“For RT  – / in mutual admiration” That’s what the book signing reads, in large oval letters. The kinds of messages you also got back in the day via hard mail before hard mail was hard; one single line of artistic sirening inscribed on premium cardstock paper scrunched into the very bottom of a rusty squeaky mailbox. The contrast between the oxidized iron-smear on 100% cotton fiber and “the message” from the “author” was—hot.

Refresh, Refresh is all torn-up, raggedy edges of early-middle MFA-track career late night ruminations tidily edited by morning.

Rojas provides a compelling compliment to the fact that even when OSHA inspectors indentify a violation, the maximum fine they can leverage is $7,000—even for death at the workplace. If the company can prove the hazard wasn’t “willfully ignored,” the case is shut.


Good luck with your stalker! by Felony Scores

Great title for a book, Scores really hit it with that one. Glad I pinched this little volume of poems from the indie collective bookstore in my neighborhood.  One thing though, the blurbers—all five of them, cite the title, three of them twice, and one three times. That’s a total of ten Good luck with your stalkers!

I just now put the book down on my floor to recover from this gross editorial oversight.

I’m back. And I just discovered that the introduction by Bunny Banes cites the title 12 more times! That’s a total of 22 Good luck with your stalkers.

Time out.

The Department of Labor’s Ergonomics Standard was abolished by an executive stroke of a pen in the 80’s. The standard stood for only a few months.

Ergonomics: the study of the body engaging non-human matter, a form fit for motion?

Poetics: the study of the materiality of language encountering the total unknown sum of human activity as calibration of social motion?


Happy Summer Writing by Tad Fellows

If you denounce irony, roundly, furiously, while having a steady stream of money streaming into your lap because of inheritance or some kind of spousedom to Finance Capital, then you might avoid a spray of arrows piercing your tender flanks, right?


Though I am curious by what Fellows has to say about ever-alert eyes, ears ultra sensitive, and resilient community poetics, the “I’ve got flow” tone of this volume stymies me from the get go. Fellow’s got mouth—that’s for sure, but it could be that the complete reverse of mouth is what’s at play.

This book is not confusing.

In terms of me reading with Fellows next Friday at the Open Collar Cool Carlito Series, I think the best line up might be that the EPA maintain strict jurisdiction over the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, expanding both standards to include or even encroach upon the very definition of our working bodies.


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Published Nov 21, 2013 - Comments Off on What Five Books I’m Reading Now………………. by Rodrigo Toscano

Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta


I first read Eat the Document last winter, starting it while stranded in Kansas City during the blizzard that hit the city during the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute. Thanks to my weather-induced captivity, I was able to get a lot of reading done, and I was absolutely blown away by Eat the Document. I just read it again for the second time last week, and it’s lost absolutely none of its power in the months since. A riveting read that tries to address the moral difference between art-making and direct action—and the costs associated with either choice. Definitely one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year.


Spectacle by Susan Steinberg


Spectacle is my favorite short story collection of 2013. Nothing else has even come close for me. I read this once in the spring, and then again these past few weeks with my grad students. And in between I kept going back, peeking again. Aggressive, formally innovative, and absolutely gorgeous at the sentence level. There’s nothing else quite like this book, no writer quite like Susan Steinberg.


The Counselor by Cormac McCarthy


Why would they release the book of a screenplay two weeks before the movie? Who knows. But McCarthy’s one of my favorite writers, so I sat down and read this the same night I bought it. I can’t wait to see it in the theatre this next week.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


Another book I was rereading, for discussion with my grad students over the next few weeks. An incredible novel, written in a wide variety of voices, each of them unique and each of them successful. Pasquale is one of the best characters I’ve read in a while, and his supporting cast is just as memorable. Jess Walter has long been one of the hardest working writers around, and its great to see all the new success this book has brought him.


You Good Thing by Dara Wier


I picked this book up at the Wave Books table at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer, my last stop after six weeks of book tour. I finally sat down with it last night and read it cover to cover in a single sitting. Like everything else Wave Books publishes, it’s fantastic.

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Published Nov 07, 2013 - Comments Off on What I’m Reading Now… by Matt Bell